Want to visit Barcelona? | CraigDailyPress.com

Want to visit Barcelona?

Mary Karen Solomon/For the Saturday Morning Press
Mary Karen Solomon
Noelle Leavitt Riley

— Since spring break of 2000, Colorado Northwestern Community College has offered mid-March European trips for students and community members.

The year 2000 was millennial and exciting. Since the world didn’t end and computers didn’t cause planes to fall out of the skies, we celebrated by organizing a trip to Rome. Preparations for the Great Jubilee in Rome had begun in 1994, when Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical letter, inviting all Christians to prepare for the third Christian millennium. By 2000, Rome was prepared for this Jubilee year — it was beautiful.

All spiffed up for millennial celebrations, the city was clean, art work restored, the metro repaired, and even the Holy Door (La Porta del Sancta, otherwise firmly locked) at St. Peter’s Cathedral was open for pilgrims’ salvation. Seeing art by Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, all in their original settings in the beautiful churches for which they had been commissioned was glorious.

Our day side trip to Florence allowed us to visit Michelangelo’s David as well as many glorious works there. The entire price for the trip was less than $1,000. How times have changed.

This year, our spring break trip won’t be during spring break. We are offering a trip to Barcelona and Girona, Spain, from May 14 to 22 for a cost of $2,850, which includes airfare from Denver, four-star hotel accommodations and travel between the airport, Barcelona and Girona. It will be totally delightful.

Barcelona is a beautiful city offering incredible architecture by Gaudi, art museums and parks galore. We hope to visit the island of Minorca in the Mediterranean one day, and we will stay in Girona, with its wealth of Roman and medieval ruins, for three days and nights. A museum and event pass for Barcelona will be included as well.

We still have some spots available for the trip, so if you are interested, call me at 970-824-1114, Kathy Simpson at 970-824-1122 or David Johnson at 970-824-1120. We are happy to answer questions and discuss our plans.

We are educators, so we like to take our group to interesting sites where they can experience culture and learn.

In Paris, we all visit the Louvre Museum; in London, everyone must tour the National Gallery of Art. But we like to do other things as well — concerts, musicals and plays are part of the experience. However, we believe in freedom as well, that our guests should be able to follow their bliss and set their own agenda for some free days.

David Johnson, who joined us as a trip organizer last year, emphasizes this need for some free time while visiting London and Edinburgh last year:

“One of the best days of the trip for me was a free day where, with one other traveler, I spent some time exploring a random mix of London sites, including some less commonly known ones, and finished it off with a lovely cream tea at the Orangery near Kensington Palace,” Johnson said.

He continues, “The flexibility of the trip was a great asset, too. On one of the days in Edinburgh that many of us planned to go to the castle, the castle was closed due to a computer problem, so instead we wandered down to Holyrood Palace and got a lovely walk-through of one of the royal residences. Seeing the preserved lock of Mary, Queen of Scots’ hair at Holyrood Palace still stands out as a highlight of the trip for me.”

Visiting London, we also have conducted side trips to Stonehenge, Stratford and Bath. Rome is another favorite. We have been there many times, visiting it in conjunction with Florence, Siena, Venice, Naples and San Gimignano, a small, picturesque, historic town on the crusade route. In Ireland, the college trip traveled from Dublin to Killarney, visiting Kilkenny and the Cliffs of Mohrer, with our participants kissing the Blarney Stone on the way.

Greece was another highlight. We stayed in Athens for four nights, then traveled to Mykonos for two days, which soon became three. We had planned an excursion to Santorini, which was frustrated by Poseidon, god of the seas.

All the Greeks we met in Mykonos agreed that Poseidon was extremely angry. Glowering clouds, stormy winds and huge waves warned us of his anger; no ferry would venture out on the Mediterranean, and we had to delay our visit to Santorini by a day, missing the geological tour we had scheduled, and barely getting there in time to see the beautiful cliffs and towns as the sun went down.

Everywhere we’ve gone, we have met wonderful people, had fun, memorable times, eaten delightful meals, and created memories. Come with us and explore the Mediterranean coast of Spain this May.

This is the first of a monthly series of columns the Craig Daily Press will run highlighting events and news from Colorado Northwestern Community College.

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